My friend Julian from Airbnb recently sent me this article An idea for non-technical co-founders: try a service-first business written by Ben Ogle, it was one of the best articles I’ve read so far in my startup career.
The core point Ben stresses is the approach founders usually have when they first have the “awesome” idea in mind: they tend to believe they have to build out the product first, then market and sell. For non-technical founders, who can they rely on? Oh right, finding a technical founder! Pitch the tech guy your “awesome” idea and pray that he will join you to execute it. HAHA, I’ve gone through that process in 2012 and I can tell you that it is tough, real tough!
First, all the people think they’ve had the best idea in the world! The reality is we all have different interest, thus a technical guy wouldn’t be as interested in your idea as you are. They probably have much more tech-advanced ideas to pursue on their own or are already collecting a nice paycheck every month from a startup or tech company. What makes them leave behind all these just to swim with you in an open sea? Second, even though you get it built, you still have to find customers. It will be such a waste to have a finished product but no one uses it! Tech person definitely would not like that waste of effort. And that’s why we have “Lean Startup” now to avoid that! If you have no idea what Lean Startup is, refer back to my previous post! Third, having an idea worths nothing, you will have a hard time negotiating with your technical partner. If you have a proven business model, you have the bargaining power.
Okay, soo… what shall you, a non-technical co-founder, do? Give up starting a business? No. As Ben mentions, it is possible to start a buisness without any tech, build up the distribution and customers and use technology to scale it up, make it convenient as hell that people cannot resist using it, grow it into a popular startup! You’ve got to try launching a business with resources you can find online like Strikely and Launchrock, or build a simple website describing your services using Wordpress. I know, more and more people are faking it nowadays, making customers too lazy to sign up because they feel like nothing is true; however, if your product or service is “that good”, they will. If it’s not “that good”, maybe it is not a feasible business!
To summarize all this, don’t waste time going out and looking for technical partner, meet one during a casual gathering or networking session. Use your time to start creating value first, then if you have proved yourself, investors and developers will come to you like sharks.